[Previous] Caffeine Is Bad | Home | [Next] Discussion and Boundary Based Relationships

Beware Jordan Peterson

Quotes are from I was Jordan Peterson’s strongest supporter. Now I think he’s dangerous from 2018 by Bernard Schiff.

Google the title to dodge the paywall.

Schiff was a big Jordan Peterson (JBP) fan but is now a critic. Schiff says he's the main reason Peterson got hired at University of Toronto:

My colleagues on the search committee were skeptical — they felt he was too eccentric — but somehow I prevailed. (Several committee members now remind me that they agreed to hire him because they were “tired of hearing me shout over them.”) I pushed for him because he was a divergent thinker, self-educated in the humanities, intellectually flamboyant, bold, energetic and confident, bordering on arrogant. I thought he would bring a new excitement, along with new ideas, to our department.

He joined us in the summer of 1998. Because I liked him, and also because I had put myself on the line for him, I took him under my wing. I made sure he went up for promotion to associate professor the following year, as the hiring committee had promised, and I went to the dean to get him a raise when the department chairperson would not.

JBP and his family lived with Schiff, on a floor of Schiff's house, for 5 months, while renovating.

I have not paid attention to JBP since before his brain damage from the detox coma in Russia. I did see his Twitter ban recently. His admitted lack of self-control over his own Twitter usage is highly problematic because he claims he can help others get their lives in order but apparently he's bad at managing his own life. A friend sent me this article.

re JBP's university lectures:

... Jordan presented conjecture as statement of fact. I expressed my concern to him about this a number of times, and each time Jordan agreed. He acknowledged the danger of such practices, but then continued to do it again and again, as if he could not control himself.

says JBP is dishonest:

[JBP] made the claim that he could be jailed when, at worst, he could be fined.

In his defence, Jordan told me if he refused to pay the fine he could go to jail.

I don't agree with Schiff about everything:

Calling Marxism, a respectable political and philosophical tradition, “murderous” conflates it with the perversion of those ideas in Stalinist Russia and elsewhere where they were. That is like calling Christianity a murderous ideology because of the blood that was shed in its name during the Inquisition, the Crusades and the great wars of Europe. That is ridiculous.

But some is concerning, including JBP's opposition to any ethical review of his psych research and:

This past March, Pankaj Mishra wrote in The New York Review of Books an informed and thoughtful critique of 12 Rules for Life , provocatively titled “Jordan Peterson and Fascist Mysticism.” Jordan’s immediate response was a flurry of angry, abusive, self-righteous tweets, some in response to Mishra’s questioning Jordan’s induction into an Indigenous tribe by referring to it as a “claim.”

Jordan called Mishra a “sanctimonious prick,” “an arrogant, racist son of a bitch,” “a peddler of nasty, underhanded innuendo,” said “fuck you” and expressed a desire to slap him. (As it turns out Jordan had not been inducted into that tribe, and his publisher removed references to the claim in promotional materials [...])

Jordan is seen here to be emotionally explosive when faced with legitimate criticism


Shortly after Jordan’s rise to notoriety back in 2016, I emailed him to express my upset with his dishonesty and lack of intellectual and social integrity. He called in a conciliatory voice the next morning. I was reiterating my disappointment and upset when he interrupted me, saying more or less the following:

“You don’t understand. I am willing to lose everything, my home, my job etc., because I believe in this.” And then he said, with the intensity he is now famous for, “Bernie. Tammy had a dream, and sometimes her dreams are prophetic. She dreamed that it was five minutes to midnight.”

That was our last conversation. He was playing out the ideas that appeared in his first book. The social order is coming apart. We are on the edge of chaos. He is the prophet, and he would be the martyr. Jordan would be our saviour. I think he believes that.


He is a biological and Darwinian determinist. Gender, gender roles, dominance hierarchies, parenthood, all firmly entrenched in our biological heritage and not to be toyed with. Years ago when he was living in my house, he said children are little monkeys trying to clamber up the dominance hierarchy and need to be kept in their place. I thought he was being ironic. Apparently, not.


“You have an evil heart — like the person next to you,” she quotes him as telling a sold-out crowd. “Kids are not innately good — and neither are you.”


Jordan’s inflammatory understanding of male violence for which “the cure ... is enforced monogamy” ... is shocking.

One potential aspect of JBP is that people and companies tend to get worse as they get mass popularity. Why? Most people change to become more like their social group including fans. And they usually only get mass popularity if they are willing to change some to be like their fans. And the masses are worse than the early adopters or niche nerds.

Disclosure: Years ago I watched and liked some of JBP's university lectures, particularly the interpretation of myths/stories including Lion King and Pinocchio. I read some Gulag Archipelago at JBP's recommendation (it's pretty good, though dark). I also noticed and publicly criticized some significant JBP flaws. I disliked 12 Rules for Life.

I'll leave you with a reminder: this was a 2018 article. JPB is worse now.

Elliot Temple on July 11, 2022


Want to discuss this? Join my forum.

(Due to multi-year, sustained harassment from David Deutsch and his fans, commenting here requires an account. Accounts are not publicly available. Discussion info.)